Retailer of the Week
Walter Sbaiz, owner of Spazio Moda, Italy
08 Aug. 2012
WALTER SBAIZ OF SPAZIO MODA, LIGNANO SABBIADORO, ITALYSbaiz Spazio Moda (sbaiz.it) is an historical fashion and multifunction store known for their designer and upmarket fashion brands and constantly hosting art exhibits and cultural initiatives. This boutique is based in Northern Italy’s Lignano Sabbiadoro, a seaside location often visited by both Italian and foreign tourists. The first Sbaiz store was founded in 1950 and, after a series of restylings, will close this November until the end of the 2013 for a complete redesign that will redefine its commercial formula and store concept.
What is the next step facing your store and business?
We will present a new store concept that offers not only apparel, but many different product categories. We informed our clientele about some important changes we wanted to put into place at beginning of the spring/summer 2012 sales. We decided to change our store’s windows, most of which featured oversized images of iconic personalities such as Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway and Albert Einstein, with only a few windows displaying fashion. We wanted our clientele to notice how fashion deserves to be treated with more dignity compared to how it has been considered in recent times.
Your new shop window concept sounds provocative. What is your exact aim?
The fashion market - and especially serious and professional retailers mostly focused on research as we are - has been facing widespread and disloyal competition since long because of a mushrooming of local discount outlets, a widespread opening of chain stores as well as parallel import operations carried out by nearby retailers. Consider that a Valentino jacket that is sold for €2,000 in a boutique, can be bought at €300 at the company’s outlet store. Yet luxury companies want you to buy their full assortment - including accessories - and still open outlets for getting rid of their unsold merchandise. Luxury shouldn’t even make sales. Such operations have destroyed the dignity of this segment, the system's organization and the true value of these products. During the spring/summer 2012 season we only sold 30% of our stocks in the main season, and only after we started discounting products first by 30% and then 50% and finally our stor started selling. Nowadays the consumer has become spoiled and accustomed to buying at reduced prices. But this system can’t work and cannot continue in the future. Because of this, we decided to renovate our store and show how good quality and top research apparel can still pride itself in a market that is now mostly ruled by price factors and always less by research and quality values.
What are the current bestsellers and why?
One of our bestsellers is the Japanese brand LGB Tokyo because it is modern, young-minded and casual, though cool and very versatile, and has a highly profitable price-quality ratio.
Do people buy according to their favorite brand or style, or according to impulse?
Fashion is now sold through many different channels such as boutiques, e-commerce, outlets, etc, but what differentiates us from others is the emotional impact of the products we choose, beyond selling reasons. Whoever enters our store “takes a breath of fresh air” and can instantly see the research and innovation. We don't offer mainstream or basic products here, but instead both established designer brands such as Gucci, Dior, Christian Louboutin and Tom Ford and research brands such as Carol Christian Poell, Lost & Found, Gareth Pugh and the more casually-oriented Free City, a Los Angeles brand inspired by nature. We are guided by emotion in choosing what we offer. And, similarly, our consumers - a select clientele - follow their emotions when buying.
Where do you place your orders? How do you inform yourself about trends? How important is communication with regular customers?
Brands are recognized and selected quite in advance, long before we buy. Our research passes through the fashion insiders' environment and the most inspiring fashion cities: Paris, London, New York and Tokyo.
How do you communicate with your consumers?
Communication with clients happens through our own website (sbaiz.it) and our blog (sbaizclub.com) as well as through invitations and brochures that we send our customers every season.
How do the collections you have on offer for next fall/winter look like?
Our offer is wide, even if there's no real ruling trend. Key trends for next fall/winter seem to be military, Ottoman prints, baroque, black, velvet and silver.
Have you added any new labels to your assortment?
Among our latest new brands, we have Uma Wang, Barbara Igongini and Nicolas Taralis.
trends for winter: military, Ottoman prints, baroque, black, velvet and silver
Our passion for our work leads us to choose according to emotion, which brings us an exclusive selection of brands mostly recognized for their own creativity.
How important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package?
The atmosphere is an abstract sensation, a mix of light, shadows and sounds, all collected together inside a single shell. It is a transversal place where one can always find fashion, design and art.
Maria Cristina Pavarini
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